Four weeks ago, in my column titled, “Tunisian unrest could begin to ripple throughout region,” about the mass protests in Tunisia, I called for similar peaceful protests to spread all throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
Unfortunately, it seems that the international community has not taken heed to the words of this Ashland columnist.
The stepping down of Tunisian President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak have become the sparks of unrest successes to rally behind for other democratically minded citizens in that region.
There have been waves of protests in Algeria, Bahrain, Turkey, Iran, and other countries in that region of the world, but so far most of it has not been peaceful.
Many deaths have been confirmed, but most all of them are due to police and military retaliation against demonstrators. Protesters all over the Arab world are expressing their right to assemble, but the rulers of these countries are not gracefully stepping down, like former President Ben Ali, or even reluctantly, like former President Mubarak.
In Libya, there have been an estimated 84 deaths, as police and military forces are using live rounds to fire into protesting crowds. In Yemen, there has been one death and several injuries after a grenade was thrown into a crowd of protesters.
In Bahrain, four people were killed and hundreds injured after police forces stormed a group of demonstrators without warning. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs against, not only, men, but also women and children. They even targeted medical personal and ambulances trying to help the injured.
Protests in Iran have left two dead after a rally in support of neighboring countries soon turned into an anti-government protest.
Each one of these deaths is a tragedy. Each death is a slap in the face of humanity and fairness.
The citizens who are rising up throughout the Middle East walk a hard road. These are firmly entrenched leaders and, unlike Egypt, the army’s of these countries are not stepping aside and allowing peaceful protest.
Each and every death is that of a martyr for the cause of freedom. It is easy to say, sitting in the comfort of my home, but I truly hope that the people of the Arab world, or those in any country stained with oppression will continue to march in peace to the door of their dictators because they will give up eventually.
Now a little speech for you dictators, you presidents for life, you corrupt autocratic rulers who have built lives on taking freedom and the pain of your people.
Give it up. Your day is over and you have no right to hold on any longer. Give the people what they want, that is peace, freedom and opportunities. Your people want to keep up with the development of the world, do not hold them back. Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Libiya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, step down this instant, and let the people realize their dreams.
Last of all, to the soldiers and police forces of these regimes, you are citizens of your countries. You are part of the populace and need to support what the people want. The old order is dead, join the protests or at least refuse to kill your fellow countrymen. It is your country too. Do not support the corrupt regimes that leave your countries at a standstill.
I hope they are listening.